By Mary Chasse, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Tuesday 11/9 the Acsuhnet Select Board briefly met with State Representative Chris Hendricks, and also discussed the tax rate for the upcoming year.
The board met with Mr. Hendricks about ARPA funds (American Rescue Plan Act). He said that some of the money is going towards safety upgrades for the housing authority’s , Presidential Terrace complex. He said there are a few things for residents with special needs that need to be done, and some upgrades to fire alarms etc.
Another part of the ARPA money would be going towards the town conducting a water study.
Mr. Hendricks also told the board that the state legislature’s redistricting plan moves him out of representing Acushnet. Reps. Bill Straus and Paul Schmidt will split Acushnet.
“It’s going to suck,” Mr. Hendricks said. “For lack of a better word…..to see Acushnet go.”
Selectboard member David Wojnar said that within the next year that Mr. Hendricks is still their representative hopefully they can use some of the transportation money to start work on Slocum Street.
Mr. Hendricks agreed and said Mr. Straus would be a huge help with that.
Selectboard member Kevin Gaspar thanked Mr. Hendricks for all his help and for always being present and showing his face around town.
The board also met with Principal Assessor Kelly Koska for a Tax Classification Hearing for the 2022 tax rates. Ms. Koska presented to the board a slide show with the tax rates for previous years, the growth they have seen for properties in the past year, and options for tax rates for the upcoming year.
Ms. Koska said that last year the levy base was around 19.2 million dollars and the FY 2022 maximum allowed levy is 20.5 million dollars. She said that with the way the housing market has been they have seen a lot of growth in value of residential homes and the growth will be even more significant next year.
Ms. Koska said that last year the Selectboard decided to go with the levy limit and not the levy maximum.
Mr. Gaspar said last year they chose the limit because the town saw a lot of growth and had free cash, so the board did not want to crush tax payers.
Ms. Koska said the recommended tax rate for property tax for FY 2022 would be $13.70 per $1000 of value for residential properties. That number is based on the 20.5 million dollar levy, which can be decreased if they do not tax to the max.
Mr. Wojnar asked if industrial properties could be taxed separately from commercial and personal property.
Ms. Koska said no. Ms. Koska explained that residential properties have one tax rate and personal, commercial and industrial have an another rate, but industrial cannot be a different rate than commercial and personal.
Ms. Koska said the board can choose to shift the tax burden more to the personal, commercial, and industrial properties to take the tax burden off of residential properties.
In the past eight years the Selectboard has always chosen a 25% tax shift, which is the difference between the rate for residential properties and commercial, personal property (for business), and industrial properties.
Mr. Wojnar said that with the housing market the way it is now they might need to micromanage the percentages more.
Chairperson David Desroches suggested taking more time to analyze the data and documents before making a decision.
Mr. Wojnar agreed and said he is worried that the property values might drop.
Ms. Koska explained that if they increase the tax rate and value goes up that is not good. Ideally, if the tax rate is up, the value is down and vice versa.
Ms. Gaspar said he would like more time to analyze everything and make a decision at the next meeting.
Ms. Koska informed the board they she would like to have the tax rate decided and all the documents in before Thanksgiving.
The board will meet on Friday 11/19 at 1 p.m. to vote on the tax rate.
In another matter the board motioned unanimously to cancel the January town meeting.
At its meeting on 11/5, the board met briefly in open session to read a letter of resignation from Town Administrator Julie Hebert.
Mr. Desroches read the letter, then convened in executive session to discuss non-union personnel issues, presumably the TA position.
In her letter, Ms. Hebert said she is accepting a position as Finance Director for the town of in Plainville, Mass. Ms. Hebert was the Finance Director/Town Accountant in Acushnet before becoming Town Administrator.
“…after careful consideration I have decided to take this opportunity to step back from the stress of being a town administrator, while also maintaining a family life with four young children,” wrote Ms. Hebert. “It has been an absolute pleasure working for the town of Acushnet over the last five years.”
She noted some of the accomplishments she is proud of including improving financial practices that led to an upgrade in the town’s credit rating, encouraged the town to invest $1.3 million the stabilization fund, improved social networking presences to better communicate with residents.
“I feel confident the town of Acushnet is poised towards continue growth and success over the next years,” read Mr. Desroches. “I appreciate the opportunities that were presented to me during my tenure with the town. It has been a remarkable experience for me with many highs and lows and has taught me valuable lessons that I will take with me unto my future pursuits.”
Mr. Desroches said he appreciated her work over the last five years and said she was put into “interesting situations,” including PJ Keating, COVID, department heads, and the day to day operation of the town.
“We’re going to miss having you here,” said Mr. Desroches.
“I concur,” said Mr. Gaspar.
“I had a chance to work with Julie last year. It’s an easy job,” said Mr. Wojnar, noting COVID and “all of the above. She did the best she could under the circumstances.”
The board has not announced any plans on how they will proceed to fill the position.
Beth David contributed to this report.
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